Military Activity Camp (MAC3) Criminogenic Programme Update | HMA

Military Activity Camp (MAC3) Criminogenic Programme Update

Last Monday I had the pleasure of supporting our two intervention workers (Matt and Lawrence) at the graduation of the MAC3 programme at Te Puna Wai youth justice residence near Christchurch. As indicated in last month’s newsletter, HMA was contracted to provide the criminogenic intervention aspect of the programme alongside the military, cultural work, and lifestyle management sections that took place during October, November and early December.The ten boys (some of New Zealand’s worst youth offenders) completed the eight-week government course at Te Puna Wai and became the country’s first ‘boot camp’ graduates. Prime Minister John Key together with Minister of Social Development Paula Bennett watched as the boys, aged 15 to 17, completed a marching drill in front of friends and family and also performed a haka.


One of the graduates spoke about his experiences, “The MAC was a good experience for me. The discipline and stuff. It is a pleasure to have you here, John Key,” he said. As well as delivering his speech, Mr Key alongside Ms Bennett, handed out certificates of achievement to each boy. After the ceremony had finished both Mr Key and Ms Bennett had the chance to meet with the families and discuss the various elements of the programme and how they had been received by both the participants and the families who had been involved at several points during the 10 weeks.

Key said the course changed the young offenders, “This is a course that is making a difference to young people whose lives were going off the rails. There is a change in their demeanour and their ambitions and self-belief of what is possible,” he said.

The course aims to teach young offenders discipline and give them self-esteem and job-skills training. Alongside this, the criminogenic section was designed to explore why they did the things they did and then look at what can be done to change this behaviour. The course also included a five-day wilderness camp which aimed to build teamwork and self-sufficiency. The programme was a true wake-up call for many of the young people and removed them from their normal day-to-day routine. An 8.30pm bed time coupled with a rise at 6.30am was one of the biggest initial challenges. Most days included physical training, drills, education, treatment programmes and a room inspection. Rebellion is usually dealt with using various calisthenics such as press-ups or burpees.

Labour MP Ruth Dyson said the course gave young people good skills, but more focus was needed on jobs for the graduates. She said the course “tried really hard to get young people to engage in good training and get a better future.” “The really harsh thing is they have nothing to go to.”

MAC programme manager Jason Northover said one youngster was enrolling at the Christchurch Jazz School and another had found work as a farmhand. Many of the boys were keen to be in employment once they left, with the trick being to act quickly and use the momentum built during the programme to secure a job. It’s all too easy to drift back into old habits and reconnect with antisocial peers, so a positive start after leaving residence is essential.

Published on Wednesday, December 8th, 2010, under Announcements, Learning & development

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